No Bidders for small railway projects

मुम्‍बई Mumbai:  Bullet trains and diamond quadrilateral networks can wait. They are worth lakhs of crores of rupees. Let’s first talk small – about Rs 34 crore.

Three-and-a-half months back, the Central Railway (CR) issued a tender worth Rs 34 crore to build seven minor bridges that are part of the much-delayed third line between Kalyan and Kasara.

It attracted just one bidder. Before the CR could recover from this disappointment, came the next blow: even the lone was not qualified. The tender was re-issued earlier this week.

“It’s getting tough to execute such projects. Companies are not doing well and hence not keen on spreading their resources thin. Even those firms that have a few works in this range don’t want to take up new ones,” said a senior CR official.

The other reason, he said, is that since the cost of such projects is small, companies outside Mumbai are not keen.

“Setting up infrastructure here to start the work would itself be as costly as the profit to be earned. Hence, several projects are held up and cost keeps escalating,” he said.

The third-line project itself is the best example. CR had proposed the project to the Railway Board in 2009. The cost envisaged then was around Rs 252 crore. It would now need more that Rs 600 crore, the official said.

The Rs 34 crore tender re-issued earlier this week was for the construction of the seven bridges and for the remodelling of a road-overbridge (between Thakurli and Kalyan). Work on the third line on the 67km Kalyan-Kasara stretch can start only when the seven bridges are completed.

The route, with just two lines, is one of the most congested rail stretches in the country. Suburban trains compete with long-distance trains moving towards Nashik and then on to the north and eastern parts of the country. In addition, there are 20-odd freight trains.

CR records show 147 suburban trains run on these routes: 34 to Kasara, 39 to Aasangaon and 74 to Titwala. Also, there are 71 long-distance ones to places like UP, Bihar, Kolkata and the North-East.

Trains on Kalyan-Kasara route
Suburban trains: 147
To Kasara: 34
To Asangaon: 39
To Titwala: 74
Long-distance trains
Departures: 49
Destinations: 71